Monday, June 30, 2014

Twitter Lights Up After Supremes' Hobby Lobby Decision: A Selection of Noteworthy Reactions

The Twitterverse is, of course, alive with tweets since the Supremes' (entirely expected and still  abominable) Hobby Lobby decision this morning. Here are some among many tweets I've found worthwhile:

The Vatican Document on the Pastoral Challenges of Family: Problematic Framing of Its "Communication" of "the Gospel of the Family"

Suppose you are, God forbid, in a difficult spot with your spouse of many years, and you both agree to resort to couples counseling to try to sort out your problems. You're convinced that he doesn't listen. He's certain that he's a very skilled listener. This presents a serious problem for both of you, this breakdown in communication, with the obstinate certainty of one of you that he listens and listens well, and your strong sense that you're, in fact, not really being heard at all.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Snippets from Last Week's News: Religion, Men, Women, Gay Folks, and Marriage

A threading together of snippets from last week's news and news commentary (and I'll leave it to you to decide where the threads run and what's being pieced together with these snippets):

More on Controversy about Baptizing Children of Same-Sex Couples: David Gibson and Bob Shine

And speaking of definitions of family and insider-outsider lines that seek to make some families more significant, normative, meaningful, or "traditional" than others, I now see that, the day before I wrote about this topic, David Gibson had published an article at the Religion News Service website about the discussion in the Catholic diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, re: baptizing children of same-sex couples. Gibson's article asks whether this issue of baptizing children of gay couples is going to become a new battleground issue in the Catholic church.

"Traditional" Family and the Bible: Snapshots from Recent Discussions of the Topic

Matthew 12: 46-48

In her recent book, How the West Really Lost God, Mary Eberstadt argues that the decline of the traditional family has led to the secularization of the West, rather than vice versa as many sociological theories propose. Robert Hunt disagrees.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Cooking to Save the Planet: Lentil Soup

Lentils first came to my attention when I went to college in New Orleans and stayed to work there a number of years, returning after I finished graduate studies to take a teaching job. My family ate (and relished) many pulses as I was growing up, including pinto or navy beans, which were both cooked with chunks of ham and then served (with their delicious, rich pot liquor) over cornbread — a recurring meal that my parents associated with their Depression-era childhoods, but which we all liked very much, especially when the beans appeared on the table with a bowl of my mother's tart-sweet, hot (from chopped jalapeños) chow-chow, redolent of the mixture of spices used to produce this end-of-garden pickled relish.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Religion and the Struggle for Rights for Women and Gay Folks Today: Fred Clark on the Significance of the Backdrop — The Struggle for Rights of People of Color

I've repeatedly noted here my frustration that many of those commenting on civil rights issues today, particularly within the academic and journalistic commentariat of my own Catholic community in the U.S., seem lamentably ill-informed about the history of slavery in the U.S. and how religion was used for many centuries to justify slavery and then to defend the legal segregation of the races up into the 1960s. For instance, back in 2011, I took issue with the assertion of Eduardo Moisés Peñalver (a Commonweal contributor whose work I respect) that

As Same-Sex Couples Bring Children for Baptism, How Will Church Respond: Purity Code or Love, Justice, and Mercy?

Here's an example of what I meant when I just wrote, "The testimony of the prophets is very clear about these issues: love, justice, and mercy trump purity codes every time, since God cares about the former and not the latter." This is Doug Erickson of the Wisconsin State Journal reporting on a memo sent last month to all priests of the Catholic diocese of Madison, from the office of the diocese's vicar general Monsignor James Bartylla. A copy of the document has been leaked to the State Journal.

More on Odd Confluence of Concern of LDS, Catholic, and Right-Wing Evangelical Leaders Today: Religious Politics and Strange Bedfellows

Yesterday, I wrote about how strange (but not strange in the least, as we think about it) it is that religious communities so wildly unlike as the LDS church, the Catholic church, and right-wing evangelicals are finding common ground around their shared determination to get women (and gay folks) under control. On the face of it, this collusion makes very little sense, when one considers the profound differences between the theological systems of these three religious groups — differences starkly evident in their various theologies of marriage, which would seem to be irreconcilable, when the Mormon theology of marriage was born in the practice of polygamy, Catholics maintain that marriage is a sacrament involving one man and one woman for life, and evangelicals historically reject all talk of sacraments beyond baptism and the Lord's supper. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Footnote to Footnote to Footnote: The Story of the Home for Unwed Mothers in Tuam, Ireland Again — More on Baptismal Status of Children Buried There

A footnote to a footnote to a footnote: some days back, I noted that in the initial thread here discussing the story of the unmarked graves of children and babies at a home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Co. Galway, Ireland, readers had suggested that the children buried in unmarked graves had been denied baptism. As I also noted in that posting several days ago, I responded to this claim by noting that I hadn't ever heard of a practice of denying baptism to illegitimate children, and I doubted that this claim was true.

What Do the LDS Church and Catholic Church Have in Common These Days? Think Facebook, Job Dismissal, and Excommunication

What do the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Catholic church, and the churches of the right wing of American evangelicalism have in common? Well, there's this, it seems:

Weekend Party Celebrating Our Marriage: Love Does Matter (No Matter What Catholic "Pastoral" Leaders Say about Gay Love)

I've been away from the blog for several days, dear friends, because Steve and I organized a little party this past Saturday to celebrate our marriage with local friends and family members. For high introverts like the two of us, being on stage in that way is, well, downright scary — and it's enervating. By the time the event was over (and we were very pleased that so many folks turned out, stayed for hours, ate and drank well, danced, enjoyed the amazing music from the group that our friends Wendell and Pat Griffen had secured for the party), we found ourselves pretty worn out from the days of planning, the party itself, hosting several house guests who came for the celebration, etc.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What Do You Do When Everyone Else Throws a Human Rights Party, but Your Church Leaders Pitch a Fit Instead?

What do you do when you belong — when you chose to belong — to a church which preaches that every human being deserves human rights, including the right to work, to adequate medical care, to shelter, to freedom from discrimination in the workplace, housing, and in healthcare, but which waffles on all of those rights when the discussion of human rights turns to you? Which, when the discussion turns to you, waffles simply because you're gay.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tweets About NOM's "March for (Some People's) Marriage"

Some of the best tweets so far from #March4Marriage hashtag feed and elsewhere on Twitter, about the National Organization for Marriage's "March for (Some People's) Marriage" today:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Republican Captivity" of USCCB, and Right-Wing Catholics Threatening War Over Protection of LGBT Workers from Discrimination

Bob Waldrop, founder of the Oscar Romero Catholic Worker House in Oklahoma City, writing at his Bobaganda! website

New "Secret, Shadowy Version of NOM" Formed: Continuing Thick Ties of National Organization for Marriage to Secret, Shadowy, Rich and Powerful Catholic Group Opus Dei

Interesting news about the National Organization for Marriage, which is staging the "March for (Some People's) Marriage" in Washington, DC, today: Jeremy Hooper of the Good as You blog site has obtained a copy of an invitation to a meeting of what Hooper calls "some sort of secret, shadowy version of NOM (Super NOM?)" called the Princeton Group hosted on June 13 by NOM dignitaries. These include NOM president Brian Brown, co-founder Maggie Gallagher, board chair emeritus Robert George, founding board member Luis Tellez and, oh — surprise! — none other than the archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, whose determination to attend NOM's "March for (Some People's) Marriage" today has proven so controversial.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage 2.0: What Do Fortnights, Marriage Marches, and Vials of Papal Blood Have in Common?

More birdcage droppings for you today (these are definitely the stinky kind):

Stories We're Finally Old Enough to Tell: My Grandmother's Sunday School Report

Mississippi (and Arkansas and Louisiana) writer Ellen Douglas waited until she was in her late 70s to publish her book entitled Truth: Four Stories I Am Finally Old Enough to Tell (Chapel Hill: Algonquin, 1998). The book tells some unflattering, shattering, truthful stories that implicate her own family, friends, and neighbors in deeds less than noble.

Mid-Week News Snippets: Teresa Forcades on Gay Love, Cordileone and NOM, Religious Right and GOP, and Catholics and Gays

At Gay Mystic, Jayden Cameron uses the occasion of the publication of Sister Teresa Forcades's new book És a les nostres mans to remind his readers of the interview she did earlier this year with Pikara magazine (English translation at Iglesia Descalza), in which she says, 

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Phil Lawler Upbraids Bill Donohue for Minimizing Scandal of Archbishop Carlson's Recent Deposition

At CatholicCulture, Phil Lawler (no bleeding-heart liberal, he) takes Bill Donohue to task for his continued insistence that Archbishop Robert Carlson is being framed by the nasty anti-Catholic secular media due to his statement in a recent deposition that he did not know in 1984 that it was a crime for an adult to have sex with a minor. Lawler tells Donohue:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Iraq Situation, the Media, and the "Festival of the Undead Wrong" (with Application to Recent U.S. Catholic Bishops' Meeting)

To call the following a meme among commentators looking at American news and mainstream media in the last three days would be a vast understatement (there are many similar statements I could cite, too):

Matthew Fox on Benedict XVI (in Introduction to Norbert Krapf's Catholic Boy Blues): Suggestions for a Retreat for the Pope Emeritus

I'm doing a lot of reading lately, and it occurs to me to share the fruits of that labor with you by way of snippets from things I'm reading, with occasional commentary on those snippets: the following is from theologian Matthew Fox's introduction to Norbert Krapf's Catholic Boy Blues (Nashville: Greystone, 2014):

Hans Küng's Can We Save the Catholic Church? on Anti-Vatican II Decision of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to Wage War Against Secular Culture

Three more passages from Hans Küng's book Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013) that leap out at me as the U.S. Catholic bishops prepare to stage once again their Fortnight for Freedom freak show that is all about keeping the culture war alive in the U.S. to serve the interests of their anointed political party, the GOP:

Monday, June 16, 2014

New Book by Sister Teresa Forcades, És a les nostres mans: Democracy Possible Only When Predatory Capitalism Is Overcome

At Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl offers a translation of an article at the website of the Spanish daily ABC announcing the publication of Sister Teresa Forcades's new book, És a les nostres mans (It's in Our Hands). The book was published by DAU of Barcelona, and is, I believe, available at present only in Catalan and Spanish editions. 

Hans Küng's Can We Save the Catholic Church?: On the Complicity of Theologians in the Church's Sickness Unto Death

A theme that emerges at several points in Hans Küng's book Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013), and which catches my eye, is the inability or refusal of far too many Catholic theologians in the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI (and still today) to stand against and correct the megalomaniacal claims of both popes — claims that have seriously damaged the Catholic church at this point in its history. I like the fact that Küng does not let us, the people of God, off the hook as he surveys the dismal state of a Catholic church sick unto death today. The problems are not all due to mismanagement at the top of the institution, by any means.

More on Archbishop Robert Carlson's Testimony in Minnesota Abuse Cases: Couldn't Remember 193 Times

Last week, I linked to Lily Fowler's article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch regarding the deposition of Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's last month in a sexual abuse lawsuit involving the archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis and the diocese of Winona, Minnesota. The deposition was released last week.

Friday, June 13, 2014

A Copy of Our Wedding Announcement, One Month (and a Day) Down the Road

Well, it has been a month (and a day) since our marriage, and though Friday the 13th might not be the most auspicious day to share this document with you, what the heck: I'm going to do so anyway. We've made it through a month of marriage and I'm happy to report to you, we remain married.

New Ways Ministry Claims "No Ethical Reflection Has Been Done" about Firing of Gay Employees, Since This Is "Very New on the Church Scene": My Response

At the blog of New Ways Ministry, Bondings 2.0, Francis DeBernardo writes

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church?: Implications for U.S. Catholic Bishops in Their Recent Meeting

Another reminder of what makes the church the church from Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013):

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church? on What Makes Church Church (Hint: Looking, Talking, and Acting Like Jesus)

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013), on what makes a church a church — at the most fundamental level of all:

Footnotes: Women, Violence, and Marriage; Irish Homes for Unwed Mothers; Archbishop Carlson's Testimony in Minnesota


Footnotes to previous discussions here this week:

As Southern Baptists, Catholic Bishops, and Mormons Keep Gays in Crosshairs, Other Public Figures Talk of Bloody Revolution

While the men leading the Southern Baptists, U.S. Catholics, and Latter Day Saints are shoring up the battlements and notching their arrows for stepped-up war with the gays (and the culture at large, since it's caving in to the gays), this is what's going on at a broader level in our culture — and is not being addressed by the men leading the Southern Baptists, U.S. Catholics, and Latter Day Saints:

In Two Days, Southern Baptist Convention, U.S. Catholic Bishops, and LDS Church Bear Down Hard on the Gays

Connect the dots:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mark Joseph Stern on NOM's Collapse — "Nothing Left but a Record of Morally Repulsive Smear Campaigns and a Trail of Legal Misconduct"

At Slate, Mark Joseph Stern takes a look at how the National Organization for Marriage, which was once so cocky about its ability to emit an "unremitting stream of noxious nonsense" to get Americans to turn against a minority group NOM depicted as "promiscuous, predatory, diseased, and disordered" has so spectacularly failed. And so quickly. 

Mid-Week News Items: Guns and Guys, Right-Wing Extremism, Racism, Misogyny, and the Tea Party Agenda

The following news snippets have to do with political issues including guns, guys, gender and race, violence against women, and the GOP's agenda of total obstruction as exemplified by Dave Brat in Virginia:

Mid-Week News Items: Marriage Equality and Religious Groups

More mid-week news tidbits, these focusing on religion and gay issues (the Cincinnati story discussed below does focus on gay issues, since it's about the attempt of Catholic institutions to weed out and control employees who show any support at all for gay people or gay rights):

Mid-Week News Items: Irish Homes for Unwed Mothers, Religious Freedom and Abortion, Legacy of Humanae Vitae

A selection of snippets from news articles and commentary that have caught my eye in the last day or so — these all on Catholic-related themes. First, several about the ongoing discussion of the story of homes for unwed mothers in Ireland:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church? Casts Cold Eye on "Monstrous Triumphant Rallies Staged for the Predecessors of Pope Francis"

In his book Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013) Hans Küng casts a very cold eye on the massive PR-savvy rallies that began to be a hallmark of the contemporary papacy with the actor-pope John Paul II, who was convinced that focusing media attention on the papacy through massive well-staged (and lavishly funded) rallies, especially featuring young Catholics who were familiar with rock stars from popular culture, would save the Catholic church.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Archbishop Carlson States He Did Not Know It Was a Crime for a Priest to Have Sex with a Child in 1984

This is one of the really stinky sort of Catholic birdcage droppings: in his deposition last month about his period as a bishop of St. Paul-Minneapolis, which was released yesterday, when attorney Jeff Anderson asked him whether he knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a child, St. Louis archbishop Robert J. Carlson stated,

Testosterone, Castration, the American Political Right: A Consideration of the Narrative

When I expressed my impatience recently with theories that ground male misbehavior in nature (specifically, in testosterone), Colleen Baker responded with the following illuminating anecdote:

Shootings in Georgia and Las Vegas: Why Do the Media Avoid Stating the Obvious When Right-Wing Terrorists Attack?

And speaking of the difficulty of ascertaining facts in news stories when the media don't want to do their job and challenge prevailing myths and dominant presuppositions (I was just talking of this in my previous posting), there's the story of not one, but two, shootings in the U.S. this past weekend with clearly related themes — in Cumming, Georgia, and in Las Vegas. I find the following commentary on the two stories and how the media are choosing to relate to them provocative:

The Tuam Story: Tablet's Helpful Summary of Salient Facts This Morning

As my posting yesterday about the Tuam story suggests (well, to me, at least), we're now going to see a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with this story. Stories like this are positively calculated to produce claims and counterclaims, given the longstanding (and now very shopworn) tendency of many tribalistic Catholics to circle the wagons when any news at all reflects negatively on our church, and to cry foul as the news circulates freely in the secular media. And given the propensity of many groups who have an understandable bone to pick with the Catholic hierarchy to leap on news stories like the Tuam story and, in some cases, ride them to insupportable conclusions . . . . 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Footnote to Story About Irish Mass Grave: Story Appears Only to Grow Worse

Another footnote today to previous discussions on this blog: last week, in the thread discussing the story of the mass grave of babies and young children found being a former Catholic home for unwed mothers in Tuam, Ireland, both Marco and Conrad suggested that it was possible that the bodies of these children were treated shockingly callously because they had not been baptized due to the circumstances of their birth. I replied by noting that I had never heard of denying baptism to children because they were illegitimate, and that I doubted this was a factor in the Tuam story.

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church?: Küng's Diagnosis of a Church Sick Unto Death

I'm nearing the end of Hans Küng's book Can We Save the Catholic Church? (London: William Collins, 2013), about which I began blogging several days ago. Before I provide any kind of overview of the book or summative statement about it, it occurs to me that it might be helpful if I identify the premise from which Küng's analysis flows. 

Further Updates, Same-Sex Marriage in Arkansas: Democrat-Gazette Publishes Rejoinder to Jason Rapert, and On Marrying Where We Live

Last week, I expressed doubt about whether my state's newspaper of record, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, would publish Judge Wendell Griffen's rejoinder to an anti-marriage equality article written by state senator (and Baptist pastor) Jason Rapert, who is leading the crusade to have the state Supreme Court once again outlaw same-sex marriage in Arkansas. As my posting noted, Judge Griffen is also a pastor — of New Millennium Baptist Church in Little Rock — and is the minister who married Steve and me (and other same-sex couples) on May 12.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

"There's Doctor Em," Steve Says, and the Giftie Holds a Looking Glass Up to My Face: More on Gender Roles and Construction of Masculinity

"O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us / 
To see oursels as ithers see us!" Robbie Burns wrote. Here's the shiny, shaming looking glass the ever-active little giftie who skips tauntingly along the corridors of my own life decided to hold up in front of me today:

Wisconsin Judge Crabb to Defenders of Traditional Marriage: You Do Understand That Polygamy Is the Tradition You're Defending, Right?

Federal Judge Barbara Crabb in her ruling yesterday (pdf file) striking down the Wisconsin ban on same-sex marriage:

Patricia Miller on Why Paul VI Kept Ban on Birth Control: Maintaining "Traditional Family" Requires Subordination of Women

In an excerpt (-cum-adaptation) from her book Good Catholics: The Battle Over Abortion in the Catholic Church (Oakland: University of California Press, 2014) at Religion Dispatches today, Patricia Miller explains why Pope Paul VI chose to ignore the counsel of the commission on birth control he put together to advise him about that issue, as many Catholics around the world began using contraceptives when they became widely available. As Miller notes, part of the reason Paul VI ignored the advice of the commission, who told him that the ban on contraception could and should be lifted, was that he did not want to make it appear the church might ever have been wrong in anything it taught.

Andrew Sullivan, Et Al., on Testosterone, Tradition, and Natural Law in the Construction of Masculinity: A Rejoinder

Andrew Sullivan says that he (along with Ross Douthat) is "kinda tired of" arguments like Fredrik DeBoer's recent assertion that the "association of male value with aggression, dominance, and power is one of the most destructive forces in the world, and so it has to be destroyed." 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hans Küng, Can We Save the Catholic Church?: An Excerpt re: President George W. Bush and Pope Benedict XVI

I've mentioned in the comboxes here in the past several days that I'm now reading Hans Küng's new book Can We Save the Catholic Church?, trans. Dr. Herrlinger of Tübingen, with reworking by Thomas Riplinger and Andrew Lyon (London: William Collins, 2013). Kathy Hughes, a faithful reader of and contributor to this blog, kindly sent me a copy of the book.*

End-of-Week News Roundup: Venus, Mars, Ongoing Discussion of Misogyny and Gender Roles in American Culture

More links — these, to recent articles and commentary continuing the discussion of misogyny in the U.S (and other cultures) in the wake of the Isla Vista shootings, as well as ongoing discussions about gender roles and double standards:

End-of-Week News Roundup: Religion and Politics, Marriage Equality, Theology and Irish Mass Grave, Etc.

A selection of articles I've read in the past few days that make noteworthy points — the following mostly religion-themed in one way or another:

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Marriage Equality in Arkansas with Rallies, Flying Fur, Duelling Bible Verses, the Whole Shebang: A Footnote

As a footnote to my previous posting about what has been happening on the marriage equality front in Arkansas since our supremes stayed same-sex marriages, I'd like to share with you two letters that have caught my eye, both from our statewide alternative free paper, Arkansas Times. The first of these appeared in that paper a week ago, and the second this past week.